I get many questions about what we do in Ethiopia when we visit Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints. Each November, I lead a team of volunteers to Ethiopia where we spend 3 full days at each CarePoint. Many of the volunteers sponsor a child at the CarePoints and one of the main reasons for their trip is to meet their sponsor child face to face.
For many other volunteers, they have had no previous involvement with a specific child or a CarePoint, but they are looking to make an investment in the future of a child in Ethiopia – and these trips are life-changing, not only for the kids we work with in Ethiopia but also for each individual volunteer!
For our most recent trip to Ethiopia in November, we had 26 volunteers who I divided into 5 teaching teams. We don’t want to be a team who just visits and then goes home. A trip like that can certainly be life-changing for the traveler and open their eyes to the issues of poverty, but it may not have any effect on the kids we are there to serve. So we seek to invest ourselves (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially) during the trip and all year long so we can build long-term relationships and change lives. (All year long by advocating for the CarePoints and for the kids we are serving there.)
Each teaching team developed lesson plans along with a project that the kids could actively get involved with that reinforced the lesson plan.
An example would be to teach the biblical story of Noah’s Ark and then have the kids create an origami boat that they could then use to share the story with their care-givers and family at home.
Another example would be to relate the birth, life and death of Jesus and its message of salvation and then create “salvation bracelets” with the kids.
Each color of bead signifies the main points of the Christian faith (black represents sin which separates us from God, Red represents the death of Jesus, white represents purity through forgiveness of sin, blue represents baptism in the Holy Spirit, Green the growth of our relationship with God, and Gold the promise of heaven.)
We divided the kids into 5 groups of 30 kids, and each group gathered in a classroom with a teaching team to spend 40+ minutes learning the lesson plan and creating their project. Then the kids would rotate to the next teaching team until they heard all 5 lesson plans for that day.
Even the staff, teachers and our bus drivers got involved with the lesson plans! The next day, the kids rotated between classrooms again to learn 5 new lesson plans.
The kids at our CarePoints rarely get to create craft projects like this and bring them home because resources are so scarce. Their eyes light up at the sight of abundant construction paper, colorful markers, yarn, beads, glue and scissors. And then when they arrive home with their projects, everyone in their home gathers around with curiosity and wants to hear the story!
In addition to teaching, we spend time with the kids, reading books and telling stories, hugging and touching, playing games, teaching about hygiene (explaining how germs are spread and why washing hands is so important, or why brushing teeth is necessary, etc.) and demonstrating to the kids the love of family and their heavenly Father.
We check in on medical conditions, discuss capital projects and set goals with the CarePoint staff, prepare and serve meals and encourage the staff and teachers as well.
The kids look forward to our visit all year long and they know they will see familiar faces each year in November when we return (November 2012 will be my 4th visit to Kind Hearts and my 3rd visit to Trees of Glory).
If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers in November 2012 (Nov 9-19), please contact me for details. There are 25 spots available on the team and about 15 spots have already been reserved. Total cost per person is approximately $2600-$3000 depending on airfare. Email me at email@example.com for details or to reserve your spot.